Let the countdown begin: the third annual Inlander Restaurant Week is about five weeks away, starting on Friday, Feb. 20, and running for 10 days through Sunday, March 1. Creative menu concocting is underway, and the offices of Visit Spokane and the Inlander have been abuzz of late with preparations for the fast-approaching event.
For its third inception, the basic format is the same as diners should remember from the past two years. Culinary teams at participating restaurants from the Inland Northwest's hugely diverse dining scene put together a menu of three-courses especially for Restaurant Week. Depending on the restaurant, that three-course meal is offered at a fixed price — or, in French, prix fixe — of $18 or $28 per person. Restaurants featured range from casual pubs to fine dining establishments, and many restaurants pair their courses with local libations, too.
Menus for the more than 90 (so far) participating restaurants in Restaurant Week 2015 are to be released online on Jan. 29, two weeks from this Thursday. Then, watch for the official Restaurant Week guide, inserted in the Feb. 19 issue of the Inlander, along with all our editorial coverage previewing the event. (Check out last year's RW features to whet your palate.)
For its third inception, Restaurant Week has grown immensely from what it sought to be in its inaugural year, when 53 restaurants in just the Spokane area participated. In 2014, that number grew to 74, and we expanded the event across the border to North Idaho.
For the third year, roughly 40 percent of restaurants participating are new to Restaurant Week, including many establishments that have debuted since last March.
Many have tried but only few have triumphed. To be exact, only 28 contestants amongst 130 brave souls have conquered the infamous Pizza Rita 5-pound pizza challenge. These true testimonies to talent gorged their way through 24 oz. of crust, 12 oz. of sauce, 9 oz. of cheese and 35 oz. of various meats and veggies to earn their rightful plaque on the wall of champions.
The rules of the challenge are simple: the pizza must be consumed within 30 minutes, only one person can tackle the monstrous pizza, substitutions can be made as long as the weight remains at five pounds and previous winners can only partake once a year following their victory.
Spokane's Torrey Lybbert holds the current winning record at 11 minutes and 48 seconds. In addition to a plaque on the wall, winners receive Rita Bucks (Pizza Rita gift certificates so they can eat even MORE pizza), a $40 donation to a charity of the winner’s choice, a stomachache and a pride boost.
In recent years however, Pizza Rita has seen a decline in people daring to try their hand at the 5-lb. challenge. In light of so little participation, owner Brian Dickmann will be adding a new gut-busting pizza challenge to the list: Rita’s Rapid Challenge.
“It will be a test of speed,” Dickmann says. “If someone can consume a large thin-crust single-topping pizza in under five minutes we will give them 50 Rita Bucks.”
The thin-crust pizza is meant to entice participation from those who are intimidated by the original 5-pound challenge.
According to Dickmann, Pizza Rita offers these contests for three main reasons: for charity, for fun and to demonstrate the true meaning of a “large pizza.”
“Everyone says ‘we have a large pizza’ but really, how large is large?” Dickmann says.
Pizza Rita hopes to begin offering the Rita’s Rapid Challenge this January. These challenges are not for the faint of heart, and those willing to eat his or her heart out can mentally prepare themselves for the physical turmoil by reading former Inlander staff writer and current contributor Jordy Byrd's testimony of the 5-pound challenge here.
A total of 22 regional and local craft breweries and cideries come together for the second annual PowderKeg Brew Fest this weekend, Nov. 7-8, a sampling event catering to the various tastes of Inland Northwesterners. Attendees can choose from one of three tasting packages ($15-$25), take a spin at the prize wheel and try out some seasonal beverages in celebration of the coming winter.
After we've set our boots by the fireplace, shed our frost-covered scarves and put our feet up after a good day on the slopes, it just feels right to indulge in a seasonal ale that can only be appreciated during this time of the year. Local Hopped Up Brewing Company features Destroy my Sweater at PowderKeg, an earthy beer brewed with caramel and mulch malts. Some other seasonal drinks include the Jubelale and Chasin' Freshies from Deschutes Brewery, Sleigh'r from Ninkasi Brewing, No Li's Winter Warmer, the Winterfest Seasonal Ale from Sockeye Brewing and Trickster's Brewing Co.'s Winter Ale. Mmmm. Get cozy.
For fruit lovers, One Tree Hard Cider pours their Ginger Lemon Cider to wake you up and a Caramel Cinnamon Cider to bring you back to Grandma's apple pie. Finnriver Farm & Cidery goes tart and purple with their Black Currant Cider, made with organic and heirloom apples.
You're into the hops? Try Alaskan Brewing Co.'s classic Freeride APA, MickDuff's Noho, or Bale Breaker's Topcutter IPA with hops from the nearby Yakima Valley. More of a porter person? Give a taste to the bronze medal winner from the 2011 North American Beer Awards, MickDuff's Knot Tree Porter.
Here's a comprehensive peek at all the beer and cider on tap at this year's PowderKeg:
If it turns out your friends don't want to be your designated driver. Don't worry — we're partnering with Lyft. Only one ticket purchase is necessary for access both days to these two festive events: PowderKeg and Snowlander Expo. Get yours at the Snowlander Expo site, at the door or through Tickets West.
PowderKeg Inlander Brew Festival • Fri, Nov. 7 from 4 pm-9 pm and Sat, Nov. 8 from 12 pm-8 pm • $15-$25 • Spokane Convention Center • 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. • snowlanderexpo.com/powderkeg
With the summer-like weather we've been having this week, it seems like the blustery fall season is far away. But it really is autumn, and the month of October is already flying by. This weekend marks the final or second to last weekend for many local farmers markets, so get your fresh fall produce while it lasts.
— Closing this weekend, Oct. 10-12 —
Liberty Lake Farmers Market | Sat, Oct. 11, from 9 am-1 pm. 1421 N. Meadowwood Ln., Liberty Lake. libertylakefarmersmarket.com (879-4965)
Sandpoint Farmers Market
| Wed, Oct. 8, from 3-6 pm and Sat, Oct. 11, from 9 am-1 pm. Farmin Park, Third Avenue and Oak Street, Sandpoint. sandpointfarmersmarket.com (208-597-3355)
— Closing next weekend, Oct. 17-19 —
Chewelah Farmers Market | Friday, Oct. 17, from 11:30 am-5:30 pm. City Park, 600 N. Park St., Chewelah, Wash. facebook.com/chewelahfarmersmarket (936-4353)
Emerson-Garfield Farmers Market | Friday, Oct. 17, from 3-7 pm. Knox Presbyterian Church parking lot, 806 W. Knox. facebook.com/EGFMarket (398-9628)
Hayden Farmers Market
| Sat, Oct. 18, from 9 am-1:30 pm. Corner of Hwy. 95 and Prairie Ave., Hayden. facebook.com/KootenaiCountyFarmersMarket (208-772-2290)
West Central Marketplace |
Tuesday, Oct. 14, from 3-6 pm. A.M. Cannon Park, 1920 W. Maxwell. facebook.com/WestCentralMarketplace (703-7433)
— Closing at the end of October —
Moscow Farmers Market
| Saturdays through Oct. 25, from 8 am-1 pm. Friendship Square and Main Street, downtown Moscow. facebook.com/MoscowFarmersMarket (208-883-7000)
Northeast Washington Farmers Market | Wednesdays and Saturdays through Oct. 29, from 9 am-1 pm. Corner of Main and Astor, downtown Colville, Wash. newfarmersmarket.org (675-8896)
Pullman Farmers Market | Wednesdays through Oct. 22, from 3:30-6 pm. Spot Shop parking lot, 240 NE Kamiaken St. facebook.com/pages/Pullman-Farmers-Market (334-3565)
Rathdrum Farmers Market | Last days are Oct. 11 and 25, from 9 am-2 pm. City Park on Hwy. 53. (208-640-9315)
South Perry Farmers Market | Thursdays through Oct. 30, from 3-7 pm. The Shop, 924 S. Perry. thursdaymarket.org (720-8449)
Spokane Farmers Market | Saturdays, through Oct. 29, from 8 am-1 pm and Wednesdays from 8 am-1 pm. 20 W. Fifth. spokanefarmersmarket.org (995-0182)
In this week's print edition we included a brief update on plans of new owners of Dawn of the Donut. A month ago the business's out-of-town owner announced he'd be closing the business, but Joe and Amber Owens of Celebrations Bakery have since purchased it and are already in the process of rebranding the shop, including the new name Casual Friday Donuts.
In case you missed it, Nectar Wine & Beer is to be the newest food-related business addition to the growing Kendall Yards neighborhood. The bottle shop and wine bar venture is owed by Josh Wade, of downtown's Nectar Tasting Room.
Spokane interior design firm HDG, known for its work on several local restaurants including Volstead Act, NUDO and Crafted Taphouse, recently on its Facebook page made a vague announcement concerning future plans for the long-empty Hod Rod Cafe in Post Falls.
East Spokane is slated to get a permanent, year-round food truck park, set to open in early 2015 at the site of the current Sprague Food Park at Sprague and Perry.
A new country music club called The Nashville North is set to open on Oct. 24 in the former Big Al's Country Club spot near the Idaho state line. The club is planning to serve barbecue by Bohica Smoke.
The second season of the locally-produced series Washington Grown, documenting local ingredients' journeys from farms to restaurant kitchens, premieres this Sunday (at noon and 8:30 pm) on Northwest Cable News channel.
From the current Inlander, we have updates on the new gluten-free bakery and food purveyor Cole's Fine Foods, in North Spokane.
The Shop's new cupcake brand South Perry Cupcakes, which opened a few weeks ago, offers gluten-free and some gluten-free-and-vegan treats in delicious flavor combinations like lemon vanilla.
Readers are stoked about the newest food truck to debut in Spokane's mobile food industry, King Burrito, which usually rolls around downtown on the weekends, but has a stationary weekday spot on West Third Avenue.
Oktoberfest season is upon us! Here's a round-up of upcoming local beer and food events inspired by this fabulous German tradition.
TONIGHT, OCTOBER 3
First Friday Octoberfest Dinner Concert | Sante Restaurant & Charcuterie Chef Jeremy Hansen is preparing a four-course, reservations-only dinner ($65/person) paired with local seasonal beers at the restaurant. The public can get in on the tastiness, too, with $15 and $25 tasting tickets available during the event, from 5:30-7:30 pm.
Big Sky Beer Dinner | The Lincoln Center's Connoisseurs Club hosts Montana's Big Sky Brewing for a special five-course dinner featuring seasonal beers from the brewery. Dinner is from 6-10 pm tonight, and tickets are $55/person.
SATURDAY, OCT. 4
Harrison Oktoberfest | The rural Idaho town hosts its 7th annual community celebration with live music, microbrew and home brew tasting, food, vendors and more. Admission is free; events run from 1-7 pm.
Two Seven Oktoberfest | The South Hill pub hosts its 6th annual event, with an outdoor beer garden serving German-style beers in one-liter steins available for purchase. The event also includes great local music from Mama Doll, Hey! is for Horses and Crystalline. Admission is free, events run from 1-8 pm.
Central Lutheran Oktoberfest | The local church festival features a home brew beer tasting and contest, with traditional homemade German foods. Proceeds benefit local food banks and meal programs, and tickets are $15/advance; $20/door; event runs from 2-7 pm.
Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest | Spokane's German American Hall celebrates the motherland tradition with traditional German food and music by the Concordian Choir, the Portato Accordion Ensemble, the Norm Seeberger Band and the Oom Pas and Mas German Band from Odessa, Wash. Admission is $12; event begins at 6 pm.
NEXT WEEKEND, OCT. 10-12
Republic Brewing's Oktoberfest | The northeastern Washington brewery is pouring Bavarian-style beers and serving up brats, kraut and live music, with games and a costume contest. Event runs Oct. 10-11, Fri from 4-8 pm and Sat from 2-8 pm.
Browne'sToberfest | Browne's Tavern in the historic Spokane neighborhood of the same name hosts a celebration with live music at the restaurant on Oct. 10-11 from 3:45-10 pm both days. Admission is $5.
Sandpoint Oktoberfest | The North Idaho lake town's fall festival features local beer and wine tasting, live music, food vendors, kids' activities and arts and crafts vendors. There's also an international chef cook-off planned. Admission is free; event runs Oct. 11 from 12-5 pm.
The show was created by Spokane film studio North by Northwest, in partnership with the Washington Farmers and Ranchers. The latter is an organization that helps promote the locally owned farmers in our state.
A new "food journey" is chronicled in each episode, beginning at a Washington farm where an ingredient or product is grown, and following the goods as they travel to a local restaurant to be prepared. Spokane restaurants Sante, Luna and the Steam Plant are among those to be featured in season two.
During the preview, the Magic Lantern is serving light hors d'oeuvres and drinks, because what's the point of watching a food show without snacks?
Northwest Cable News airs Washington Grown on Sundays at noon and 8:30 pm beginning this week. Episodes can also be streamed online the following Monday after its original airing at wagrown.com. Also on the site, find recipes for many of the featured ingredients and restaurants on the show. Several caught our eye — including Dick's fries and Sweet Frostings' cupcakes.
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